My love for the backcountry (Part.2)
Max: What's the best thing about backcountry skiing?
Shota: The main goal is, skiing powder. No matter how high or low the elevation,a few turns of powder is what I'm looking for. Anyway, skiing powder snow is the most important and the most fun. But I also like the preparation that goes into it finding that powder or going into the backcountry.
Max: Interesting that you like the preparation.
Shota: Maybe it's going to be windy tomorrow, so I should bring a windbreaker. If it might be colder than that, I wonder if I should bring a fleece or a light down jacket. What's interesting is that your own choices create the moment you're in. Someone may say, "You should have that," but you're the one who makes the decision. It's also interesting to know how each mountain is different and how things are different in Japan, U.S., Canada, and Europe. Maybe I always like to be prepared for something.
Max: Do you think backcountry affects your mentality in any way?
Shota: My time in the backcountry is incredibly precious to me. Going to Hakuba or Hokkaido itself takes up a lot of my time and when you get there and the weather is clear, it becomes even more precious. I am an actor so I see myself as a creator and I'm also involved in various art activities. So backcountry is really precious to me as time and moments and experiences which I can create separate from my work, off duty.
Just climbing a mountain is hard enough, but to get down in powder on a mountain where you don't know what the snow conditions will be like, and to get home without regret, it's an athletic and creative process. I think that's the whole appeal of backcountry skiing to me. I always compare it to my life in Tokyo.
Max: What do you mean by comparing?
Shota: I always wonder why I can't work like the way I ski, or why I can't live my life in the way I'm riding that snowbank in the mountains. I feel that freedom in the mountains. I think it's partly because I'm from Tokyo and live in a place where there is no nature at all.
Max: Tokyo doesn't have much nature, but the amazing thing is that you can go surfing or to the mountains in an hour or so. What's your favorite experience in the mountains?
Shota: For me, backcountry skiing is not something that can be ranked. I think it's probably a combination of circumstance, skill, and age.
But if I can mention anything, it skiing in Asahidake, the mountain where I started to get good at powder skiing.I happened to be working with Oakley at the time, and the snow quality on Asahidake was unbelievably good, and I felt I could control my skis as I wanted. I fell in love with Asahidake that day.
Max: When was that? Did you go with someone to guide you?
Shota: When I was about 27. Yuta Ueno and Makoto Asakawa guided me.
Max: As you said though, each experience is special in its own way.
Shota: I know, it's almost like a love affair. (Laughs)
Max: Basically for me, backcountry is about enjoying the moment to the fullest, and each experience is special. The most memorable moment I can think of now is when we went to Tateyama together last year. I had too much to drink the night before and missed my flight, but somehow made it in time. It was a pretty demanding full day in the backcountry with some steep terrain. And right at the end of day, we rode that last run into the sunset!
Shota: That was incredible.
Max: Even though it wasn't powder.
Shota: If it was powder, it might have been dangerous.
Max: I don't know how long we skied, maybe two kilometers? There was no one there.
Tell me a little about your relationship with Blackcrows Skis.
Shota: Basically, skis have been seen as a little uncool in Japan since the boom of the 80's. There are various manufacturers, but snowboarders are still seen as cooler. When I was in high school. I tried snowboarding but I didn't really connect with it. I thought it was the same thing to ski downhill. I wanted to ski with style, but at the same time, I was more interested in snowboarding in terms of the stylish brands and designs. Then I discovered Armada, an American ski brand. I thought it was cool, I used them a lot, and I really enjoyed skiing powder. I still like them. But I was still looking for something cooler and more personal, and I started seeing Blackcrows skis in a few magazines. I wondered what it was all about, and then I found out that Hiroshi Fujiwara and Mai Ikuzawa were friends, and that Mai’s husband set up Blackcrows. They asked me to try the Blackcrows skis. The first time I tried their skis, I found it difficult to make a turn unless I used a good angle. I told Camille and he said to me “It's supposed to be difficult, it's skiing. Making everything easy is not good for the ski industry”.
Max: So Camille doesn't want everything too easy?
Shota: It's not that he doesn't want to make it too easy, but if you ski Chamonix, I think you'll understand.
Camille was kind enough to ask me, "Shota, how did you feel when you skied the Japanese snow with the Blackcrows skis the other day?" I told him that it felt heavy and I needed power to make turns, and that the snow in Japan was so soft that it's generally easy to make turns even if you don't have power. But when I went to Chamonix I realized that the snow quality was different and the slopes were not the same. In any case I love what Camille does, Camille, he's from Chamonix and created Blackcrows when I go into the unknown, like to Tateyama for the first time, or to Canada for the first time, I choose the Blackcrows skis It's like a good luck charm that protects you when something happens.
Max: Cool. I love Blackcrows even though I'm a snowboarder.Thanks for your time and see you in the backcountry!
The Zen Buddhist Monk, Toryo Ito, is interviewed by Max Mackee from Kammui
Having an experienced friend as a guide, I started my life in the backcountry. Instead of meeting in the city, I wish I could ask my friends to come to the snowy mountains.
Actor Shota Matsuda, who grew up skiing as a child, talks about the allure of the backcountry and why he skis and climbs. From his relationship with nature to his favorite ski gear. Interviewed by backcountry buddy, Max Mackee from Kammui. (Part.2)
Actor Shota Matsuda, who grew up skiing as a child, talks about the allure of the backcountry and why he skis and climbs. From his relationship with nature to his favorite ski gear. Interviewed by backcountry buddy, Max Mackee from Kammui. (Part.1)
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